Key Issues > Toxic Chemicals
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Toxic Chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) faces long-standing challenges assessing and controlling the risks associated with toxic chemicals.

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Tens of thousands of chemicals are currently in EPA's chemical inventory and an average of 1,500 new chemicals are introduced into commerce each year. EPA conducts chemical toxicity assessments under its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program and is authorized under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to obtain information on the risks of chemicals and control those it determines pose an unreasonable risk. Obtaining adequate scientific information on chemical toxicity and exposure levels and completing timely, credible chemical toxicity assessment have been long-standing challenges for EPA. Such assessments are the cornerstone of scientifically sound environmental decisions, policies, and regulations under a variety of environmental statutes, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

Chemical Assessments:

Challenges Remain with EPA's Integrated Risk Information System Program
GAO-12-42:
Published: Dec 9, 2011. Publicly Released: Jan 9, 2012.

Chemical Assessments:

Chemical Regulation:

Chemical Regulation:

Options Exist to Improve EPA's Ability to Assess Health Risks and Manage Its Chemical Review Program
GAO-05-458:
Published: Jun 13, 2005. Publicly Released: Jul 13, 2005.

More Reports

Critical Infrastructure Protection:

Observations on DHS Efforts to Identify, Prioritize, Assess, and Inspect Chemical Facilities
GAO-14-365T:
Published: Feb 27, 2014. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 2014.

Environmental Health:

EPA Has Made Substantial Progress but Could Improve Processes for Considering Children's Health
GAO-13-254:
Published: Aug 12, 2013. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 2013.

Critical Infrastructure Protection:

DHS Needs to Improve Its Risk Assessments and Outreach for Chemical Facilities
GAO-13-801T:
Published: Aug 1, 2013. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2013.

Chemical Regulation:

Observations on the Toxic Substances Control Act and EPA Implementation
GAO-13-696T:
Published: Jun 13, 2013. Publicly Released: Jun 13, 2013.

Critical Infrastructure Protection:

Toxic Substances:

EPA Has Increased Efforts to Assess and Control Chemicals but Could Strengthen Its Approach
GAO-13-249:
Published: Mar 22, 2013. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 2013.

Critical Infrastructure Protection:

Oil and Gas:

Information on Shale Resources, Development, and Environmental and Public Health Risks
GAO-12-732:
Published: Sep 5, 2012. Publicly Released: Oct 9, 2012.

EPA Health Risk Assessments:

Oversight and Sustained Management Key to Overcoming Challenges
GAO-12-148T:
Published: Oct 6, 2011. Publicly Released: Oct 6, 2011.

EPA Health Risk Assessments:

Sustained Management and Oversight Key to Overcoming Challenges
GAO-11-824T:
Published: Jul 14, 2011. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 2011.
More...

Videos

High Risk: Transforming EPA's Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals
  • portrait of Alfredo Gomez
    • Alfredo Gomez
    • Director, Natural Resources and Environment
    • gomezj@gao.gov
    • 202-512-3841